Welcome: Yorkshire Wildlife Trust

Aly Stoneman is a poet and AHRC-funded Midlands4Cities PhD researcher writing about the British coast, focusing on changes related to sea-level, erosion and other coastal processes.

She was founding poetry editor at LeftLion Magazine, promoting Nottingham’s poetry scene, and a winner of the Buxton Poetry Prize. Aly has read at Copenhagen International Poetry Festival and Ledbury, and her poems recently appeared in Liquidscapes, New Walk, Under The Radar, and Dawn of the Unread. Lost Lands, her debut pamphlet, explored personal interactions with the natural world.

Aly is based with our team at Spurn Discovery Centre, developing a pilot mini-programme of poetry activities and events during October and November as part of Spurn Autumn Arts Festival and programme. Writing workshops in the community during October focused on reconnecting with nature through the power of language and ‘re-wilding our writing’, taking place in Easington Primary Academy on National Poetry Day and at Spurn Discovery Centre.

The project will culminate in an exhibition at Spurn Lighthouse from the 23rd of November until March 2020 (open weekends 11am-3pm). A launch event and preview will take place on Wednesday 20th November 4-6pm at Spurn Discovery Centre, with readings from project participants. The event is free and open to everyone.

If you live in the East Riding Area and would be interested in contributing a poem inspired by Spurn to the poetry postcard exhibition, “Hello from Poetic Spurn”, Aly would love to hear from you! Please contact her directly at alyson.stoneman2007@my.ntu.ac.uk.


Poet at Spurn

Rewilding Our Writing, Saturday 5 October

Rewilding Our Writing, Saturday 5 October 11am-2.30pm

Poet at Spurn – yes, that’s me! I am the latest in a long line of writers and artists to have been inspired and captivated by the open landscape, massive skies and seascapes of Spurn. The first time I visited the area, a couple of years ago, I was fascinated by the rich biodiversity and history of the nature reserve, the Humber estuary and surrounding area, and the way the land-and-waterscape shifts almost minute to minute. I’m a PhD researcher based in the School of English at Nottingham Trent University, writing a critical and creative thesis looking at representations of coastal change in contemporary poetry. Where better to base myself than Spurn? Yorkshire Wildlife Trust kindly agreed, and over the next few months I will be working with Yorkshire Wildlife Trust at Spurn Discovery Centre to run a pilot poetry project as part of their Autumn Arts Festival. (So exciting!)

If you live in the East Riding Area and would be interested in contributing a poem inspired by Spurn and the local area/coastline/wildlife, or reading at an event, I’d love to hear from you! Please contact me directly at alyson.stoneman2007@my.ntu.ac.uk

The programme launches with a poetry workshop at Easington Primary Academy on Thursday 3 October – National Poetry Day. Here is an outline of the public poetry events in the programme (October and November 2019):

Poetic Landscapes of Spurn: ‘Rewilding Our Writing’ Poetry Workshop
Saturday 5th October, 11am-2.30pm (Suitable for ages 16+)
Join Yorkshire Wildlife Trust poet Aly Stoneman at Spurn Discovery Centre for a friendly, informal poetry workshop inspired by the coastal habitat and wildlife at Spurn. Please bring a couple of your favourite words for nature, which could include regional and local dialect names for creatures and plants. The session will include an outdoor writing activity, weather permitting!
£6.00/£4.00 Non-members/members
Please visit our website and book on 01904 659570 or online: https://www.ywt.org.uk/events/2019-10-05-poetic-landscapes-spurn

Spurn Arts Festival at Spurn Discovery Centre, Spurn Road, Kilnsea, Hull HU12 0UH
Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th October, Spurn Discovery Centre 11.30-4.30pm (£6)
A weekend of live music, arts and activities for families. Includes a drop-in family poetry workshop with Spurn’s resident poet Aly Stoneman 11.30-12.30pm on Saturday and poetry readings from Poetic Landscapes of Spurn project by Aly Stoneman and guests from 3.15-4pm on Saturday and 2pm-2.45pm on Sunday.Please visit our website and book on 01904 659570 or online: https://www.ywt.org.uk/events/2019-10-19-spurn-autumn-arts-festival-day-1

Poetic Landscapes of Spurn Celebration Event and Exhibition Launch, 4-6pm, Weds 20 November at Spurn Discovery Centre
Poetry Readings and film showing from Poetic Landscapes of Spurn pilot poetry programme, including work by Easington CoE Primary Academy pupils. Includes launch of the Poetic Landscapes of Spurn exhibition at Spurn Lighthouse from November 2019–March 2020. Refreshments available. Advance booking required.

The project is supported by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Partnership and the AHRC, and Nottingham Trent University.

I’d just like to say a quick thanks to YWT (particularly Andrew Mason, my line manager) and Mrs Verity at Easington Primary Academy for being so welcoming, supportive and enthusiastic – I’m not going to want to leave (no, really. Going to have to drag me out of here!). Thanks also to Sophie Koranteng at New Writing North and Imelda Malkin at Hornsea Library (East Riding Libraries) for your advice and help.

A drop in the ocean

I know my writing (and, indeed, my life) is just “a drop in the ocean”, ‘but what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?’ (David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas). On this day of global Climate Strike protests, I’d like to share one of my poems about sea level rise that has just been published in Liquidscapes by Art.Earth

Aly Stoneman

Start at sea level and hit the up arrow –

dark blue engulfs Great Yarmouth
and Poole, then London, awash
from Canvey Island to Canary Wharf.

Or navigate home, reckon
the sea’s surge
over Domesday farmland,

outflanking you
click by click
to the threshold of your house,

your tongue slipping
on names sunk in sediment
and brackish water.

Your home means nothing to that future

of eroding cliffs, toppling pylons,
tree stumps at low tide;
decaying roads to no-place.

The sea sends
harbinger gulls inland.
We tread the high paths.

At sixty metres, we’re islands of National Park.


Note: ‘Sea level rise will continue beyond 2100 even if global warming is limited to 1.5°C […]’ (IPCC Special Report, 2018) and could rise 0.5m-2m this century, depending on global emissions. See also: ‘What the World Would Look Like if All the Ice Melted’, National Geographic, September 2013. The potential effects of global sea level change on coastal areas and communities can be seen on this interactive map: http://www.floodmap.net

Travel Writing Podcast with Tim Hannigan

Tim Hannigan and I discuss our relationships with the travel genre as practitioners and researchers in this podcast for the Centre for Travel Writing Studies.

You can listen here: https://soundcloud.com/user-196724481

This episode features travel and history writer Tim Hannigan, and poet Aly Stoneman, both current Midlands4Cities-funded PhD students and postgraduate associates of the Centre for Travel Writing Studies at Nottingham Trent University.Tim and Aly talk about their own relationships with the travel genre – as practitioners and researchers – and discuss the ethical issues involved in writing about “elsewhere” and representing the travellee. They also take a look at the “new nature writing” and consider its connection to travel writing, and offer short readings from their own work.

Poetry and Place at Nottingham Poetry Festival TUESDAY 30 APRIL 6.30PM – 8PM

I’m really looking forward to Nottingham Poetry Festival later this month 26 April – 5 May! Sue Dymoke has kindly invited me to take part in the following event:
Poetry and Place
Five Leaves Bookshop, 14a Long Row, NG1 2DH
Alan Baker, Sue Dymoke and Aly Stoneman read poems about near and far-flung places and talk about the place of place in their poetry.
Pay on the door or through our website £3 including refreshments

Leicester Travel Talk, Friday 12 April: Hikers, Hippies and Horrible Histories – La Gomera


La Gomera Talk April 2019If you are free and in Leicester on Friday morning, I’d love to see you. I’m looking forward to giving my second presentation at the fun, friendly and informative Leicester Travel Talks about La Gomera: ‘Hikers, Hippies and Horrible Histories –The Intriguing Island of La Gomera (Canary Islands)’ from 10.15-12 noon in the Satta Hashem Hall.

Leicester Adult Education College, 54 Belvoir St LE1 6QL. It’s £4.50 on the door. http://traveltalksleicester.co.uk


FB Livestream of Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature poetry event on World Poetry Day (Thursday, 21st March 2019)

I’m taking part in a poetry event hosted by Nottingham Trent University (NTU) and Nottingham City of Literature to celebrate World Poetry Day on the 21st March.

World Poetry day, declared by UNESCO in 1999, is an occasion to honour poets and celebrate one of humanity’s most treasured forms of cultural and linguistic expression. This year, UNESCO Cities of Literature Network has committed to promoting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal: Gender Equality, by creating a platform for women to express their ideas and experiences of gender issues. This year’s Nottingham City of Literature event will be supporting this goal by promoting and listening to the voices of 12 female poets, who will share poems reflecting on all stages and ages of being a woman.

The event will see the talented women poets performing at NTU’s Clifton Campus library, surrounded by the books that have nourished their writing. UNESCO aim to ‘build a better world with words’ and the decision to use the NTU library very much reflects their fundamental belief in libraries as places to foster literacy and education. Many of the poets are students or alumni of our MA in Creative Writing and PhD candidates who contribute to the rich literary research culture of the university. The performers include Becky Cullen, Panya Banjoko, Tuesday Shannon and Victoria Zoe, as well as NTU Writer in Residence Bridie Squires.

The event will be live streamed on the Nottingham City of Literature Facebook page, in a unique way of engaging new audiences with cultural events in the city. This will allow the poets of Nottingham to reach audiences who are unsure about attending live events, as well as poetry enthusiasts from further afield.

Join in via the Nottingham City of Literature Facebook page from 7pm on the 21st March,

Wavescapes in the Anthropocene (Croatia) 3-6th December 2018

Wavescapes 1

I attended my first international conference in December, thanks to funding from Midlands3Cities, to present my creative and critical academic paper, ‘Coastal Change Poetics: Erosion and Loss on Britain’s East Coast’ as part of the event’s Creative Engagement programme. Wavescapes in the Anthropocene was organised by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Split, Croatia and featured academic, literary and artistic responses to the environmental ‘sea-change’ we are facing in the Anthropocene. Fortunately there were no parallel sessions, so I didn’t have to make any difficult decisions about which talks to attend, as they were all brilliant and inspiring! Plenary presenters included Adeline Johns-Putra (University of Surrey), whose research focuses on climate change fiction, and environmental writer Rebecca Giggs (Macquarie University) whose book Fathoms: The World in the Whale is due out in 2019. Some of the presentations really spoke to my own poetic engagement with sea-level rise, including Maud Canisius’  ‘Waterscape Walk: I could have been at the Beach right now’, where she filmed a 700km walk along the ‘line’ ‘that separates the Netherlands between high (safe) and low (under threat of drowning)’, and Simon Bradley and Ursula Troche’s ‘Reflections on repetition and contingency on the edge of the nuclear power industry’ which used poetry, text, imagery and found sound. Discussions arising from the presentations explored creative processes, the symbolic function of water, environmental and ecological issues, the emergence of sea-level rise as a central theme in climate change narratives, and much more.

The first two days of the conference were hosted in Split, before we travelled to Komiža village on the island of Vis by ferry, where events included a talk and guided walk by Prof. Joško Božanić (University of Split). The walk ended at Joško’s own house, where we were treated to risotto, homemade Orahovac –  a delicious green walnut liqueur – and a poetry performance! We also attended the St Nicholas Day celebrations and boat burning, an ancient tradition where an old wooden boat is burned and the ashes are scattered on a new boat to bless it. It was lovely to return to Split twenty years after I first visited. Times are very different, but the Dalmatian Coast is as beautiful as I remember.

Attending ‘Wavescapes’ provided the opportunity to build on my professional development as a researcher and share my research into poetic responses to coastal change with academics, PGR’s and creative practitioners with similar research interests. It also helped me to build confidence in presenting at international events (it was a really friendly conference, creating a great sense of community) and has allowed me to network with researchers within my area of study who I would be unlikely to meet otherwise, since many are based in other countries. I’d like to thank Midlands3Cities for supporting my visit, Prof. Božanić for his immense hospitality, and the event’s organisers Dr. Eni Buljubašić and Asst. Prof. Simon Ryle from the University of Split for hosting such an amazing event and also for organising an opportunity for attendees to publish their papers in Cross-Cultural Studies Review (as a special thematic unit in early 2020 in the journal’s second volume). Cross-Cultural Studies Review is a new double blind peer review and open access journal which will be published jointly by Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul, South Korea and Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Split.



Farewell to Leftlion Magazine

The farewell is mine, as I have stepped down from my role as poetry editor at LeftLion Magazine after eight years. It was time (I am in the third year of my PhD) and I’m sure that the new poetry editor, Chris McLoughlin, will do a fantastic job of promoting the brilliant poetry scene in Nottingham. I’d like to thank editor Bridie Squires and all the Leftlion team for their support and friendship.

Here are a few of the interviews I did with national and local authors in 2018, published in Leftlion Magazine and LeftLion online (WriteLion):

Nancy Campbell (Canal Poet Laureate), May 2018: https://www.leftlion.co.uk/read/2018/may/canal-laureate-nancy-campbell/

Ioney Smallhorne (When We Speak: An Anthology of Black Writing), July 2018: https://www.leftlion.co.uk/read/2018/july/when-we-speak-poetry-anthology/

Miggy Angel, September 2018: https://www.leftlion.co.uk/read/2018/september/miggy-angel-extreme-violets/

Lytisha Tunbridge, October 2018: https://www.leftlion.co.uk/read/2018/october/poetry-lytisha-tunbridge-interview-nottingham/

Travel Talks Leicester: Exploring Orkney’s Literary and Coastal Heritage, 30 Nov 2018

img_4828When my friend (the intrepid Cornish travel writer!) Tim Hannigan suggested I give a presentation at Leicester Travel Talks, I was a little bit nervous! Were they looking for tales of rugged adventure or glamour in far flung places? In fact, the monthly event covers a diverse range of travel-related topics and ‘is open to anyone with an interest in the world we live in who wants to learn more about it by sharing the experiences of another traveller – the speaker’. Following my second research visit to Orkney (and after attending Tim’s talk on Cornwall, given earlier in the year), I pitched a talk on ‘Exploring Orkney’s Cultural and Literary Heritage’ to organiser Tricia Lessells, linking literary works, traditional stories and geographic places framed within my personal travelogue. On 30th November, I made my way to Leicester clutching my Powerpoint presentation on a USB memory stick. With a turnout of around 35 people from all walks of life, the atmosphere was welcoming, friendly and relaxed and the morning flew by. People seemed really interested in the subject and we enjoyed a lively Q&A/discussion afterwards.

Orkney has a rich cultural and literary heritage and I hope my talk encourages people not only to visit and/or discover more about the islands, but also to check out some of the writers we discussed for themselves, including Amy Liptrot (The Outrun) and Duncan Mclean who publishes (through Abersee Press) fiercely contemporary anthologies of poems and prose by Orcadian writers ‘utilizing the traditional Orcadian tongue to engage with modern Orcadian concerns.’ Orkney’s literary tradition includes works by George Mackay Brown, Edwin Muir, Eric Linklater, Christina M. Costie, Walter Traill Dennison, and more. Top of my list (as well as Liptrot and Abersee Press) is wonderful storyteller and writer Tom Muir, who you can hear telling the story of ‘Assipattle and the The Mester Stoorworm’ here, and the fascinating 13th Century (Norse) Orkneyinga Saga. My talk was delivered from the point of view of an outsider to Orkney, but I felt it was a real privilege to visit such an interesting place and wanted to share the experience as widely as possible.

Tricia has kindly invited me back to give a talk on 12 April 2019: Hikers, Hippies and Horrible Histories – The Intriguing Island of La Gomera (Canary Islands) and From Tito to Tourism: Komiža – 
The Croatian town where people really burn their boats! on 20th Sept 2019. The Travel Talks programme takes place on Friday mornings from mid-September to May at the Satta Hashem Hall, Leicester Adult Education College, 54 Belvoir Street, LE1 6HL. 10:15am – 12 noon (Price per session £4:50). You can check out the  online diary and website here.

Travel Talks Orkney Poster 18